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Alabama would have to pay the University of West Virginia a $2 million buyout as part of Rodriguez's contract.

Rod appears Bama-bound
Rich Rodriguez could be named Tide coach as early as today; reports indicate yearly salary in $2 million-$3 million range

By Josh Cooper· 340-2460

It looks as if Alabama has found its next head football coach.

Sources close to the situation are indicating that West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez could be named Alabama’s coach as early as this morning.

The two sides were in negotiations throughout Thursday, but an agreement had not been announced as of press time.

Several reports say Rodriguez could make between $2 million and $3 million, a hefty raise from his current $1.1 million salary with West Virginia.

Alabama also will have to pay the Mountaineers a $2 million buyout as part of his contract.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez met with West Virginia athletics director Ed Pastilong to discuss his status with the Mountaineers.

“We had a good discussion. We plan to continue our dialogue,” Pastilong was quoted as saying in the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail. “Right now, we’re just hopeful that he’ll announce that he’s staying with us.”

Rodriguez was in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday participating in a Gator Bowl function. Rodriguez did not field any questions on the Alabama coaching search, and the news conference was curtailed before reporters could ask him.

The potential hiring of Rodriguez ends a short, secretive and nearly bizarre process.

Even Wednesday night, at one point it appeared that Alabama officials still thought they could woo former LSU coach Nick Saban, now head man with the Miami Dolphins, to Tuscaloosa. On Thursday, Saban addressed those rumors and confirmed that Alabama had tried contacting him and his agent, Jimmy Sexton.

I’m sure they talked to Jimmy,” Saban said in The Miami Herald. “They called Jimmy and asked, ‘Is Nick interested?’ and Jimmy said, ‘No.’ And Jimmy asked me on several occasions and I said, ‘No, I’m interested in staying here.’ We’re in the middle of a season. I’m committed to our team, our players, and trying to do what we have to do. It’s not even a very good time to think about stuff like that, to be honest with you.”

Also reported in The Herald was a potential contract offer from the Tide, giving Saban $50 million for 10 years, including a $7 million bonus.

The report was shot down by several board of trustee members, who were interviewed Thursday.

"That's a fabrication," said trustee member Finis St. John IV of Cullman. "I don't know why it was put out. That's completely inaccurate. It's not good for anybody involved. It's irresponsible. Whoever said it knows it's not true."

According to industry sources, the holdup with Saban and the Tide was a timing issue. Sources said Alabama would have to wait until the end of the NFL season to talk with Saban. If Alabama were unable to get Saban, at that point it could have been difficult to get Rodriguez.

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